ISLAMABAD          -              Pakistan on has all parties to carry forward the US-Taliban peace deal in Afghanistan amid fears of misunderstanding between Washington and the Taliban.

A foreign ministry statement said Pakistan had consistently “underlined the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, which we deem indispensable for peace and stability in the region and beyond.”

The US-Taliban Peace Agreement signed in February 2020, it said, was a significant step forward, creating a historic opportunity for the move towards intra-Afghan negotiations.

“We believe that the pursuit of sustained reduction in violence by all concerned parties is pivotal in advancing the cause of peace in Afghanistan. The unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19 and the advent of the holy month of Ramazan further underscore the imperative of creating conducive environment,” it added.

The US military earlier warned the Taliban it must curb attacks inside Afghanistan and revealed that a US troop withdrawal agreement signed in February included an informal commitment for both sides to cut violence by 80 percent

 

The previously secret arrangement was revealed in a Twitter spat between the US military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett and his Taliban counterpart Zabihullah Mujahid. It comes after a sharp escalation in militant attacks since the agreement was sealed.

 

In a rare open letter to militants published on Twitter, Leggett warned: “If the violence cannot be reduced– then yes, there will be responses.” The Taliban had “asked for clarity” after the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, called for a reduction in violence and warned that “if the Taliban continue to attack” they should expect retaliation.

 

The Taliban allegedly mounted more than 4,500 attacks across Afghanistan in the 45 days since they signed the agreement for a US troop drawdown. These have mostly been in rural areas, with no high-profile suicide missions targeting cities or foreign troops. But overall attacks are up 70% from the same period last year. Leggett said that broke the terms of the withdrawal deal.

 

The Taliban spokesman attacked the US statement as “pointless and provocative” and said the path to resolving the war lay in the agreement signed in Qatar in February. “We are committed to our end, honour your own obligations,” Mujahid said.

 

The Taliban claim attacks have fallen since the signing of the withdrawal deal and accused the US of breaking its commitment to secure the release of 5,000 of Taliban prisoners held by Afghan authorities.

 

Afghanistan’s divided government is meant to embark on political talks with the Taliban soon, to pave the way to a negotiated end to the war. Leggett warned that if violence levels did not go down, those peace talks might never begin.

 

The foreign ministry said Pakistan “also wishes to underline the importance of political reconciliation among all Afghan parties and stakeholders. An inclusive political dispensation would indeed help fortify the efforts that the Afghan nation needs at this critical time to effectively confront the challenges it faces.”

 

For its part, the ministry said, “Pakistan will continue to support a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and its neighbours.”

 

 

Pakistan on Sunday said the RSS-inspired BJP government in India is motivated by the sole objective of hiding its blatant human rights violations in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and is bent on muzzling independent voices of the media and journalists.

 

In a statement on World Press Freedom Day today, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the situation has become more alarming in Occupied Kashmir after India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August last year.

 

The statement condemned Indian campaign of harassment and intimidation and called upon India to immediately lift all communication restrictions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, withdraw frivolous cases against Kashmiri journalists and restore all fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people.

 

The spokesperson expressed solidarity with the journalist fraternity in Occupied Kashmir, which continues to face a relentless campaign of harassment and intimidation.

 

While saluting their exceptional courage, Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan also honours the sacrifices of those Kashmiri journalists, who have laid down their lives in the line of duty.

 

The statement further said Kashmiri journalists continue to work with conviction and professionalism, despite the heavy handedness of Indian occupation forces acting with impunity under the draconian Public Safety Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

 

The spokesperson said global media watchdogs, Indian and international human rights groups, and civil society organizations are deeply concerned over unprecedented restrictions imposed on the media, the widespread intimidation of Kashmiri journalists, and the precarious state of their work environment in Occupied Kashmir.